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Familiarity a theme at APS superintendent input session

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In its first of 12 community input sessions, Albuquerque Public Schools heard from principals, parents and employees on what characteristics they want to see in the next superintendent.

A recurring theme Monday night was familiarity and understanding of both Albuquerque and the district.

Justin Duggins, specialist with APS’ student service center, said knowledge of each school and what the daily happenings are at the school level are key factors for the district’s next leader.

Vickie Bannerman, principal at Volcano Vista High School, said she would like someone who has recent experience in schools and a background in leadership working with diverse populations.

Taking it a step further, Pamelya Herndon, chief executive officer of KWH Law Center for Social Justice and Change, said she hopes the next superintendent has worked in APS, ideally as a principal.

Roughly 25 people attended the forum at Sandia High School.

With current Superintendent Raquel Reedy announcing she will retire in June, the community input forums are part of the replacement process.

The APS Board of Education has said its goal is to have Reedy’s successor on board by July 1.

The community meeting on Monday night gave participants about an hour and a half to talk about the district and its next boss.

The group was asked what the strengths of the district are, what challenges exist in APS and what experience and values are wanted for the next superintendent.

Ched MacQuigg, a retired APS teacher, said he wants the next superintendent to act as a role model for students. And Courtney Duran, step-mother of APS students, said she wants the next superintendent to have data-driven approaches to improve the district and work to make students workforce ready.

And the group also identified hurdles.

For instance, Herndon said the next superintendent should work to reduce a high number of disciplinary actions against students of color.

According to APS data, while black students make up roughly 2.5% of the student population at APS, they received 5% of all suspensions in the 2017-18 school year.

And Jess Selbee, parent and APS community school coordinator at West Mesa High School, said the next superintendent will need to increase graduation rates.

According to state data, APS’ graduation rate increased to 69.6% in 2018, compared with 67.9% the previous year.

John L. Jones, an Albuquerque resident, noted the new superintendent will come aboard amidst the implementation of a landmark court ruling that found the state’s school system violates the rights of some students by failing to provide a sufficient education — a decision that focused on students who are learning English, come from low income families or meet other “at risk” criteria.

Forums aren’t the only way to offer input. The district has an online survey for the superintendent search that is open here:

This month the board is also aiming to secure a search firm to help with replacing Reedy. The plan is to conduct a national search to find the new superintendent of APS, according to online information about the search.

The next leader at the APS helm will take on over 80,000 students in over 100 schools across nearly 1,200 square miles.

“The superintendent is responsible for more people than almost all the mayors in the state of New Mexico,” said Keri Stewart, facilitator of Monday’s discussion.

APS Input Meeting Schedule

November 21: 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Volcano Vista High School

November 22: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Alice and Bruce King Education Complex

November 25: 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Eisenhower Middle School and Alvarado Elementary School

November 26: 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Roosevelt Middle School

December 2: 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Zia Elementary School

December 3: 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Manzano Mesa Elementary School and Rio Grande High School

December 5: 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Albuquerque High School and Jimmy Carter Middle School

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